• Housework
  • 2003

Housework is descriptive of an architectural process. It describes a series of acts that revolve around the domestic female body, mimic self-duplication and theft, celebrate two-dimensionality and culminate in the creation of an uninhabitable house.

Housework may be dismissed as paper architecture, a fragmented mess. It may be read as a visual essay of the scarce and fantastic in architectural history, or understood as simply an odd house designed to shelter and encourage the integration of bodies, domestic appliances and architectures. Housework promotes itself as a treatise in steal construction, as an exhaustive architectural collection of lies, amendments and additions. It certainly is contrived.

Represented in the form of section drawings, Housework is inhabited by five elusive characters that act as the housekeepers of their respective chambers: one giantess, one amputee, one architectural refugee (Edith Farnsworth), one mutant and one collector of domestic detritus. These fictitious inhabitants are hybrids of flesh and architecture, their bodies integral to the construction of the house.

Chamber Scrypts Text

Support Rooms (1)

The character that embodies the façade was born out of the House itself.  Her bone, muscle, and connective tissue are a perfect hybrid of flesh and architecture.  The two faces of this character are in grotesque disagreement, facing in opposite directions.  One face is shriveled and acts as a transitive space for water entering the building through the rain collector.  It is known as the Wash Face.  Blind and forgetful, the Wash Face is a shell rather than a room.  It has a mouth, or font, which spits water into the House, causing interior deterioration.  The other face is a watching loft for Looking Out.  This is a space inhabitable by those Visiting who are small enough to climb the stairs that lie just behind the lacunar entrance, a parting in her skirt.  The construction of the watching loft does not acknowledge the spaceless room bound tightly to the back of it. 

Though the House seems to strain to support her, she is very light, constructed of a minimal skeleton clothed in a latticework of metal plate and fabric.  The body of this character is yoked to the House by the flanges of an ossature that wind imperceptibly under her bulging stomach.  These flanges keep her from being blown away by the wind.  Rather than house-keeping, she is house-kept

Within the vestry of her stomach are the clothes that Visitors should change into once they’ve reached the end of the stair tower and intend to progress on to the Faces.  Past the vestry, every room is on exhibit.  Even the innermost chamber, the penetralia, is turned into a stage by the proscenium wall whose gaping arch frames the space, turning domesticity into performance.   

Hovering just above the Finder’s Entrance.

Water tower.

She is the architecture that frames and fronts the wash house, the vanity, the small interior chambers and the ante-chambers.  This is the true face of the building.

Cyst Collector (2)

The Ultra Cellar performs as the primary site of collection and storage of Domestic Detritus.  The Cyst Wall, buried vertically within the fourth subterranean level of the Ultra Cellar, is a space for collections that perhaps have no ‘use.’  Not damaging collections, merely cystic, space-wasting.  The Cyst Wall is a space in which such things are apt to settle naturally, drawn by gravity.

The Ultra Cellar, inhabited by the Cyst Wall, is actually embodied by the Cyst Collector, a character whose housekeeping role is as Caretaker of the Collection of Forgotten Junk.  The Collector is clothed to Find-and-Keep, her body enveloped in layers and layers of fleshy fabric pockets.

The Collector lives on the other side of the Cyst Wall, in a pit dwelling.  Her body is indistinguishable from the fine white clay that she uses to build pocket-spaces in the Ultra-Cellar.  She uses this material, zaccab, to build the walls that close her in.  She is near-sighted, having been out of sunlight for so long, and so she very often mistakenly builds herself into the walls she is constructing.   

She is excessive and blind, qualities expressed in her four useless breasts and the trailing garment she wears, each pocket lined with more pockets.  Her hands are greedy, grappling with the artifacts she finds in the first underground level of the Ultra Cellar, where the dirt of the site is collected and filtered through the mining equipment that precedes the tumulus maker.  From this excavated dirt, out-dated religious ornaments and instruments are kept in a heap that she sifts through and chooses from.  She is the house-keeper of the entire Ultra Cellar. 

Passing by the second level, which houses the confessio, where absolution is given to those who Visit the House, she averts her eyes from the third level, the site of the double-fornix, the architectural definition of which lies somewhere between ‘furnace’ and ‘ancient Roman underground brothel.’  Once within the fourth level again, pockets full of artifacts, she packs her findings into the Cyst Wall of her Pit Dwelling. 

She prefers to work in the Dark, believing that it’s always Night.  She wears protective eye wear for moments when the crumbling face of the cliff slips away in bits, exposing light into the tomblike spaces that she frantically excavates deeper. 

Armless Inhabitant (3)

The Dressing Room is a room designed to house and dress its armless inhabitant.  The garment that the inhabitant of the dressing room wears is a shirt with extremely long sleeves—a costume of over-compensation.  Because of the size of the garment, over one story tall, the shirt must reside in the Attic, wrapped around itself in a nest-like space built between the rafters.  When the inhabitant of the Dressing Room engages the machinery of the Window Niche, the garment is drawn from its storage space and progresses downward for the Window Dressing; the architecture then dresses the inhabitant.

The Armless Inhabitant is known here only as the Armless Inhabitant.  Her identity or life prior to House Work is never fully disclosed.  It is known only that she lapses in her responsibility as a house-keeper because of her limb-lack.  The architecture on this side of the house is not self-sufficient.  Light leaks through the bough-breaker, allowing the gnarl-limbed trees to grow wild and enter the house, interfering with the nest of the Arm-Shirt.  Wearing the Arm-Shirt makes her task of keeping the house more difficult than if she went without the prosthetic.

A collapsed shell of a garment, with trailing, unusable arms speaks about the function of the arms in engaging our surroundings.  Here, the surroundings engage the inhabitant.  This is what domestic architecture can do to the ‘undomesticated’ body, the wild-ed body.  The body that wears the Arm-Shirt is suddenly domesticated, over-domesticated, to the point of architectural dependency.  The Window Niche of the Dressing Room is imperative to the wellbeing of the inhabitant.  This vignette is an exaggeration of how architecture can restrict, inhibit, dictate, and domesticate through its engagement/disengagement with the flesh.

Dresser armature.  Dressing niche, window niche.  Domes, niches.  Lots of niches into walls, this is the window niche, though.  Just above the bough breaker, a landscape domesticator.  The architecture tries to pick up where the Armless Inhabitant slacks off, but it really can’t.  On this side of the House, the site is winning.

Edith Farnsworth (4)

Edith uses a spiral stair to access the House from where she resides in the Attic, within a tangle of steel trusses and members that take on a Mansard-esque form.  Structure here is ornament, as far as Edith is concerned, but it provides ample opportunity for her to spin small spaces randomly throughout the Attic. 

The Attic is a framework for Edith’s architectural installations.

The Attic-Nest for the Arm-Shirt occupies a space adjacent to the Attic of Edith Farnsworth.  This involves a domestic architecture horror story.

Edith Farnsworth commissioned a house to be designed by Mies van der Rohe.  His creation of her home as a transparent jewel in a flood-plain forest so offended her that she abandoned it entirely, and now lives in the Attic of this House Work.

Edith Farnsworth had a weekend house designed by Mies, perfect/imperfect.  While she lives in this House Work, autumn leaves still stain the travertine patio.  The apron she wears around her House is made with interior pockets intended to hold as much “ornament” as Edith is willing to carry around with her.  It meets half-way, maintaining the architect’s pristine ‘ideal,’ while satisfying the doctor’s kitsch-lust.

Edith is used to trees as walls.

Antechamber (5)

Service and support rooms, and their stairway passages spread across the service walls in a way that relates horizontally to the rooms that they serve (scullery to kitchen) and vertically, to each other.  A person doing chores can go from one service room to the next relatively easily, not all over the house in sheepish and unrelated nooks.  It is also helpful in the transport of Domestic Detritus by dumbwaiter up and down the ante-alley.

The Support Rooms of the House serve as auxiliary spaces for the ‘inhabitable’ rooms.  In this way, the support rooms are the silent barrier between two domestic spaces, the realm of ‘inhabit,’ to dwell within the House, to occupy in a conventional sense, and of ‘exhabit,’ to expose, or exhibit, the internal domestic environment.  The Support Rooms are a space of ‘habit.’ 

Ante-space is read as an alley that divides the House between its service walls and the rooms that they serve.  The Ante-chambers pivot counter-balancing program between the two sides.  The Ante-chambers can be seen as a space for preparation, for readying oneself to enter the Service Spaces, where body and appliance are most integrated.  The character that typifies this Ante-Chamber has wheels for lower appendages:  she doesn’t mind the pivoting floors:  to her, it is a roll/playing game.  She wears the AntiApron to cross between the spaces, for gaze protection and collection.  Mainly, she crosses from identifiably male spaces, the den or the library, to identifiably female spaces, the kitchen, the sewing room, rooms of Service Arts.  She dwells mainly between the two, in the leftover space and strange corners, in a service core that is central but marginal to the House.

Chores here are divided by floors.

Just Pants. (6)

Who wears ‘em?

The simplest garment that never evolved.